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THE WEEKLY REVIEW \ APRIL 24, 2013


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This year will be the sixth annual Heart of St Kilda Concert to be held at The Palais Theatre on Tuesday May 14 to raise funds for St Kilda’s Sacred Heart Mission. The night promises some of the best in Australian music and comedy, with a line-up as diverse as the inhabitants of St Kilda. One lucky TWR reader has the chance to win a double pass to the concert, valued at $158. www.sacredheartmission.org/

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OUR COVER \ Megan Hess photographed by Shannon Morris

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APRIL 24, 2013 \ THE WEEKLY REVIEW 3


A BRUSH WITH STYLE 4

COVER STORY Channelling retro chic, artist Megan Hess has made her mark on the world, writes FRANCESCA CARTER

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ne night in 2006, Megan Hess was woken by a phone call that would change her life. Still half asleep in her St Kilda apartment, the freelance illustrator was told that a “New York Times bestselling author” was interested in her work. She suspected it was a prank call. “They couldn’t say exactly who the author was,” says Hess. “But I knew that with my style it wasn’t going to be anything male. It was probably going to be something feminine, chic lit, maybe Jackie Collins. I honestly never could have guessed who it was.” The author was Candace Bushnell, an identity synonymous with celebrities, cocktails, parties and Manhattan. Bushnell, whose own career skyrocketed when her Sex and the City columns for the New York Observer were turned into a cult television show, had seen one of Hess’s drawings in a copy of Italian Vogue. Attracted to her feminine and confident style, Bushnell commissioned Hess to illustrate the cover of her new book One Fifth Avenue – a work she describes as “part social satire, part documentary”. “When I found out, I remember I was in my tracksuit with my hair in a bun just thinking, ‘thank god you can’t see me right now’,” says Hess. “I was so excited that I read the entire manuscript without taking a break.” After dissecting the script, Hess, 38, relished the opportunity of depicting the Greenwich Village art deco landmark. Using a back-and-white palette with subtle hints of colour, her response was to draw the individual characters in the windows of the building. Showing her inherent understanding of line and balance, Hess’ well-dressed creations immediately struck a chord with Manhattan’s fashion elite. Not surprisingly, the book became a bestseller featured in the pages of various fashion magazines including US Vogue’s prominent September issue. Impressed with her interpretation, Bushnell commissioned Hess to illustrate reprints of the covers of all of her previous books including Lipstick Jungle, Carrie Diaries, Trading Up and Sex and the City. It was Hess’ springboard to success. “After that, everything just really took off,” says Hess. “And I remember thinking, the best year that I’ve ever had work-wise is the year I had my daughter, which ironically is a blur in many ways. But when you work for yourself, you can’t navigate when things will happen.” If the name Megan Hess isn’t familiar at the moment, it soon will be. Although she sheepishly admits she hasn’t written a CV in more than a decade, if she were to, it would include an impressive client list that spans from Paris to Hong Kong. Working with paints, inks, pens and paper, Hess’ expressive style has adorned the pages of Vanity Fair, Time, Harper’s Bazaar and nearly every Vogue on the planet. She has worked on advertising campaigns for the likes of Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Ladurée, Hôtel Ritz Paris, Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Fendi, Marc Jacobs and Dior – she has even received a private commission to draw Michelle Obama. “That was one of the most difficult projects I’ve

THE WEEKLY REVIEW \ APRIL 24, 2013


ever worked on,” says Hess of sketching America’s first lady. “Drawing someone to look very real is always challenging, especially when it’s someone so recognisable ... but it was an incredible opportunity to draw someone with so much substance.” On the morning we meet in her stylish Port Melbourne penthouse that she shares with husband, architect Craig Yelland, and their two small children, Gwyneth, 7, and Will, 3, Hess has just returned from Paris Fashion Week. Despite her jam-packed schedule and the stress of jet lag, she is chirpy, gregarious and instantly likeable. With a quick laugh and an unaffected attitude (perhaps it’s the native Queenslander in her) it’s easy to see why so many of her clients describe her as “warm”, “enthusiastic”, and “down to earth”. “Megan is amazing, a total professional,” says her publisher Paul McNally, from Hardie Grant. “She’s incredibly amiable, has a thousand great ideas and is one of the most lovely people I’ve ever worked with.” Effortlessly posing for the photographer, it’s hard to believe that just moments ago Hess was unintentionally smeared in Vegemite by her son, Will. “You can’t say no to a cuddle,” she says, laughing. Despite a sudden change in outfit, Hess’ appearance is flawless. With cascading, pre-Raphaelite curls and subtle make-up, she has a classical beauty that unfolds itself through conversation. “It’s hard not to love her, because she’s just so gorgeous,” says the Kate Burgess, the marketing and PR manager of Montblanc. “Everything about her is perfect, head to toe. You can’t fault her.” Just this week, Hess launched a series of limited edition drawings for the brand; taking inspiration from their various customer types, she has created a whole Montblanc world. “She’s one of those people that is so inspiring and, as you talk to her, you realise she knows her work inside out,” adds Burgess.

H

ess’ journey into illustration began in the outer suburbs of Brisbane, when she was 10 years old. Besotted with drawing, she vividly remembers looking forward to her weekly Saturday art class. “It was the highlight of my week,” says Hess. “It was always my dream to do something later in life that involved drawing or printing, but when you’re a kid you don’t see it as something you could do as a job.” When she was a teenager, working part-time in her father’s pharmacy with her two siblings, Hess discovered an early copy of Harper’s Bazarr in a second-hand bookshop. The cover was illustrated by Russian-born painter Romain de Tirtoff, who called himself Erté after the French pronunciation of his initials. Intrigued by the exotic and romantic illustration, Hess bought the magazine, initiating a lifelong obsession with the artist. “Erté is my hero,” says Hess. “Using a fine-point pen, he was able to create texture in garments. His unique style is simplistic in some ways but it tells so much, and that’s what I’ve taken from him, the idea that less is more.” Although Hess continued to draw in her spare time, she didn’t think of it as a career. At that stage, in the early ’80s, fashion illustration was in a state of decline. Art directors, who had for years used illustration as a standard means of fashion presentation, left little, if any room for the medium in their spreads. Under the illusion that graphic design was the closest thing to drawing, Hess enrolled herself at the

PICTURE \ SHANNON MORRIS Queensland College of Art, part of Griffith University. “The minute I got in there I realised this is not what I want to do. But I felt guilty if I did anything artistic like drawing every day. I thought I’ll never get paid, it’s too indulgent. At least if I do graphic design I’ll get to do brochures.” Graduating from college, Hess landed her first job with high-profile advertising company Mojo in Brisbane. Employed as an art director, Hess was forced to prove herself, working 12-to-15-hour days. “I thought it was really exciting at the time, but I knew I wasn’t quite in the right thing,” she says. At 23, Hess moved to London where her curiosity and enthusiasm encouraged her to experience as many challenges as she could cram into her life. From visual merchandising at Tower Records to retail work at the high-end clothing boutique, Press & Bastyan, for the first time in a while Hess was creatively inspired. But it was at Liberty of London, the venerated British department store, where the doors started swinging open. Contracted as an art director, Hess worked on a broad range of assignments, which included setting up an elaborate photoshoot with supermodel Erin O’Connor riding on elephants. “Coming from Australia I really only knew about two department stores,” says Hess. “I didn’t realise there was this whole other world … I fell in love with the whole concept of the store and the way they protected their

ink pen, Hess draws everything in a black line before adding carefully edited colours and textures. “Photography has become so slick that in a way fashion illustration has come back because people crave the hand-drawn,” says Hess. “It has a connection with the viewer that is personal and intimate.” With faultless execution and a strong understanding of her subject, Hess’ drawings have a life of their own. Whether it’s a portrait, advertising campaign, editorial piece, or a limited edition print, Hess’ world is one where the characters have their own personalities. Possessing an old-school kind of glamour, the women wear all the latest fashions with poise, while the men are handsome and impeccably dressed. “Megan’s signature style fuses bygone glamour with chic modernity,” says Nikita Papas, the editorial director of FashionTrend Australia. “(Her) silhouettes amplify elegance and enviable style. Her heroines are sometimes demure, sometimes sassy … always alluring.” This month Hess has released her first illustration book, Fashion House. Drawing from her experience travelling and working with luxury brands, she has created an interiors book that delves into the private worlds of her imaginary characters. Whether it’s Percy Sinclair, the whisky drinker in Knightsbridge, or Tabatha Paloma, a French Riviera native who sleeps only on deluxe hammocks, Hess’ creations inhabit a world we long to enter, a place where gloss and beauty go hand in hand with an endless good time – be it an Indian palace, a Mexican spa, or a famous Parisian teahouse. “I didn’t want to turn it into a serious book; I wanted

“Let’s just say I haven’t had a really good sleep since 2006 ... But even though it’s been mad and crazy and very full on, I probably wouldn’t change anything” look and feel. There was a lot of integrity in everything they did.” Working on a furniture catalogue, Hess conceived a new approach to the layout: instead of presenting photographs of the iconic pieces, why not sketch them? After her first sketch, many more followed, and it wasn’t long before her singular spare brushstrokes caught the eye of an art director at Elle UK who gave Hess her first editorial assignment. “I remember I bought 100 copies of the magazine,” says Hess. “I was on Upper Street (in Islington), and as soon as I knew it was coming out I went up to the newsagent and found it. I was probably there before it opened. But I just remember thinking, this is it. I want to draw fashion things, it’s all I really want to do.” Today, almost 15 years later, Hess is not limited to commissions. With sheer ambition and a gutsy work ethic, she has mounted gallery exhibitions and has designed her own scarf, pillow and greeting card range. “Let’s just say I haven’t had a really good sleep since 2006,” she says, giggling. “But even though it’s been mad and crazy and very full on, I probably wouldn’t change anything.” Although retouched and edited photos may be viewed as the preferred choice in today’s fashion age, Hess’ illustrations offer a richness and texture that can’t be produced in a photographic studio. Using a customised

to keep it fun and light,” says Hess. “It’s more about the lifestyle of a person and all the little details like the dog, the colour palette, or what sort of fragrance they might wear. Because that’s what interests me the most.” Dedicated to her husband, who “designed and built the perfect house” that she lives in today, Hess has divided the book into three sections: her 10 staple furniture pieces, her imaginary character rooms, and her favourite style icons. And, like any brilliant creator, she understands every nuance of her invented world. There is no doubt that if he were alive, Erté would have saluted Hess’ rare vision and her inventiveness. With just a few squiggles of the pen, or strokes of a brush, she proves that people are still captivated by the simple art of an illustration. \ fcarter@theweeklyreview.com.au » Fashion House: Illustrated Interiors from the Icons of Style by Megan Hess. $29.95 (Hardie Grant Books) To purchase any Megan Hess product, visit www.meganhess.com

TALK » To celebrate the book’s release, Hess is taking part in a function with Bayside Events – An Evening with Megan Hess, at The Willows, 462 St Kilda Road, Melbourne on Wednesday, May 1. 9589 0152. » baysideevents@bigpond.com

WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK @

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APRIL 24, 2013 \ THE WEEKLY REVIEW 5


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THE WEEKLY REVIEW \ APRIL 24, 2013


(DARRIAN TRAYNOR)

JANET WONG

BARISTA

\ LEANNE TOLRA REVIEWS ALICE NIVENS CAFÉ Alice Nivens Café is named CAFÉ after its owner’s favourite childhood character and the white rabbit in

PUBLIC LIGHTING STRATEGY Have your say on the draft Public Lighting Strategy. The strategy will provide direction on the way we use external lighting in the municipality – from streetlights and public spaces to buildings and special events. Submissions close on Wednesday 8 May. melbourne.vic.gov.au/getinvolved

But the final chapter to her fairytale will be opening Alice Nivens for high tea on Saturday mornings later this year.

Tim Burton’s 2010 movie version of the tale. Her Spirit espresso As a child growing up in Hong Kong, Janet machine, by Dutch Wong recalls a love of baking and a love of manufacturer Kees van der Westen, is barista Alice in Wonderland. When she finished her Wong’s secret weapon. homework, her mother would take her out “It’s just so user friendly, I feel it can never for high tea. fail me – and it appeals to my engineering She grew up collecting things – quirky background,” she says. Wong studied teapots, white rabbits (the rabbit is also engineering at Melbourne University her Chinese zodiac sign) and Queen and returned to Hong Kong to work of Hearts trinkets – dreaming of The city in her chosen profession. owning her own café. cafÉ was “When I came back to With the help of Collingwood a lifestyle Melbourne in 2011, it was during interior design company Barbara choice the global financial crisis and I and Fellows, Wong managed couldn’t get a job in engineering,” she to fit her dream kitchen and her says. She picked up work as a barista at collectibles into the tiny city space. Il Fornaio in St Kilda and began planning her The café offers a daily selection of own café. Here she met friend and mentor sweets such as strawberry and cream Kris Wood, who now runs Clement Coffee in cupcakes, raspberry and frangipane tarts South Melbourne. and meringues with french vanilla cream, “Kris taught me so much. He told me what created by Wong and pastry chef Jean Cleary books to read and to go to cupping (tasting) (ex-Capital Kitchen, Chadstone). sessions around town.” There are at least two gluten-free options Wong uses Wood’s coffee and imports teas. daily (the chocolate brownie is excellent) and She also offers a selection from Storm in a Tea dairy-free and vegan treats too. There’s also a Cup. Clement’s Pony Blend is available daily, short list of breakfast choices and a selection and arrives as an intense, malty piccolo latte. \ of hearty sandwiches. ltolra@theweeklyreview.com.au Wong says operating a Monday to Friday city café was a lifestyle choice. “I wanted TO READ MORE REVIEWS something with structure and without www.theweeklyreview.com.au/coffee chaotic working hours,” she says.

Get involved in your city For general information call 9658 9658 or visit melbourne.vic.gov.au

BARISTA

WANTED: YOUR KNOWLEDGE The fourth annual Melbourne Knowledge Week 2013 will be held from Monday 28 October to Sunday 3 November. Organisations and individuals wanting to participate are invited to express their interest by Tuesday 30 April. melbourne.vic.gov.au/knowledge

JOIN THE SPRING FASHION FUN

URBAN FOREST WORKSHOP Saturday 4 May, 10am Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street

The City of Melbourne invites you to take part in Melbourne Spring Fashion Week 2013 by producing or hosting your own event. Applications close Friday 3 May. melbourne.vic.gov.au/enterprisemelbourne

CALLING RETAIL AND HOSPITALITY LEADERS

If you live in or around the central city area, come along to our workshop and tell us what you think your street trees should look like in the future.

Be part of Melbourne’s retail and hospitality future. Express your interest to sit on the City of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Retail and Hospitality Advisory Board. Applications close Friday 10 May.

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ALICE NIVENS CAFÉ, SHOP 13, PORT PHILLIP ARCADE, 228 FLINDERS STREET, CITY Phone \ None

Barista \ Janet Wong

Coffee \ Clement Coffee

Barista’s choice \ Double espresso

Open \ Monday to Friday 7.30am-4pm

» facebook.com/pages/Alice-Nivens/349480665147865 Wander past a stamp collector’s paradise and a cake decorator’s heaven, to discover a mural of Alice in a wonderland of food and drink, where teacups are converted to lights and children’s books are on display. Sitting on low stools beneath high ceilings, amid the din of city dining, recreates a childhood fantasy world. \

The Melbourne City Council team (from left): Cr Ken Ong, Cr Beverley Pinder-Mortimer, Cr Jackie Watts, Cr Arron Wood, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Cr Rohan Leppert, Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley, Cr Stephen Mayne, Cr Richard Foster, Cr Cathy Oke, Cr Kevin Louey.

For information about programs, services, Council and committee meetings, please call 9658 9658 or visit melbourne.vic.gov.au

APRIL 24, 2013 \ THE WEEKLY REVIEW 7


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(ISTOCKPHOTO/THINKSTOCK)

f all the things you need to navigate as a parent, I’m just learning that dance schools are possibly one of the hardest. They are tricky, man. There are various shades of mauve and pink leotards out there, and every dance school uses a different colour, and every class within the dance school wears a different colour, depending on age group and level of experience. But you absolutely have to have the right one. Did anyone out there know this already? Who cares? you might think, but they do. The teachers that is. And some of the mums … and that rubs off on the kids. Different shades of pink or mauve leotard are generally not tolerated. And that’s just the start of it. Leotards are worn with a little skirt and headbands and flesh-coloured tights. There again, some classes don’t use the skirt; they like their dancers to wear a pair of black shorts. But how do you know that until the kid starts the class and you’ve already invested in the skirt?

“OH NO!

And then there are the shoes – they’re classes. Those mums take their kids’ preteen dance either tan or black but you can’t have the wrong career seriously. And that’s the bit I don’t get. It’s not like kind, or you have to paint yours or strip them back they need to be all that good. You can’t really aspire to and there are products you can buy for that, but they be a dancer when you grow up. I mean, what are the job are only found at shops on the other side of town. opportunities – burnt out at 21 on the ballet circuit or And that’s just for the girls … my heart bleeds for the Dorothy the Dinosaur appearances at the show? little boys getting around in stretchy black tights and The second type couldn’t give a toss. As long as high-heeled tap shoes. At least their folks don’t have to everyone’s happy, the kids get to be in a concert no deal with as many colour variations. matter how ghastly, mum gets a child-free latte Me, just one term into dance-school world, every now and then and everyone sticks with it The shop I’ve already crossed town for the right leotard at least until the leotard’s faded because those and had tap shoes of a certain size on order things cost a bomb. assistants for weeks. I’ve also made the fatal mistake That would be me. But the best thing I’ve wear of turning up at a dance shop (there are such heard about dance classes comes from a mate, leotards! things; it is an industry; the shop assistants a long time dance mum who may well be a bit wear leotards!) on a Friday night after school in burnt out. She says: “It’s remarkable to see the the first week of the “season”. dancers at competitions fit and flexible and made And then there are the dance mums. They might up like dolls with identical ringlet ponytail pieces, in come in all different shapes and sizes, but there are stark contrast to their mothers who are middle-aged, generally two types – those who pack their kids’ snack overweight, underdressed and look like they’ve been boxes with lots of things that come in packets, and hang drinking liquor and smoking cigarettes since 1972.” around to help with shoe changes, and those who drop Yep, sure can’t wait for the end-of-year concert … \ khall@theweeklyreview.com.au their kids off and run like the wind to the nearest café. The first type can always be relied on to have a tin WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK @ of hairspray in their bag and a laptop with educational www.theweeklyreview.com.au/my-view games for the darlings to play between jazz and tap

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to love themselves the way they are, but then they are paired with images of girls who meet a very slim perception of beauty as well as a variety of advertisements promoting weight loss and beauty products. “Young girls are not simply potential retail consumers – they are valuable members of our society and (businesses) should not be taking advantage of their insecurities or allowing them to worsen.” Barlow has a valid point. Young people have told us for some time that body image is one of their biggest concerns. Alarmingly, Girlfriend magazine’s 2012 body image survey found that more than half of girls questioned believed losing weight would make them feel better about their appearance. More than half skipped meals, 45 per cent had been on a diet and one in five admitted to vomiting after eating. “Magazines are some of the worst culprits when it comes to feeding young women’s negative views of their bodies,” says Mission Australia’s national manager of research, Dr Bronwen Dalton. “Despite young people being more ‘media literate’ than ever before, unrealistic and unachievable images of physical perfection seem to have entrenched high levels of concern among young women.”

advertising and music industries throw up their hands and start claiming we’re a nanny state? I am frustrated because there is no hard and fast solution. Like many pressing issues, this one requires a collaborative approach that involves education, government and community interventions. I am told by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations that the office for youth is preparing a submission to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority for its draft consultation paper Australian Curriculum – Health and Physical Education (HPE): Foundation to Year 10. It will propose that healthy body image, including critical media literacy, be more strongly emphasised in the school curriculum in years 5 to 8, where evidence suggests that young people are most vulnerable to an unhealthy body image. It gives me hope that there are people such as Barlow, who have the guts to stand up and do something about it. But ultimately, the buck lies with the consumer. Will you support The Brainwash Project’s “crusade”? What do you want to see and read in teenager’s and women’s magazines? \ editorial@theweeklyreview.com.au

beauty’s reality check REFLECTIONS \ CATHERINE KLADAKIS backs the Brainwash project oys, sex, make-up, clothes – and looking thin enough to fit into them. Is this all teenage girls are supposed to care about these days? Twenty-year-old RMIT professional writing student Jessica Barlow is so insulted by the digitally altered, appearance-focused content of young women’s magazines that she has decided to start her own. The Brainwash Magazine features stories from politics to science, and all the gritty, reality topics that are usually left out of magazines because they’re “unsexy”. Girls of all sizes, shapes and nationalities will grace its pages on a regular basis. “Girls want to read about things that relate to their day-to-day lives, not articles that encourage them to change or tell them that they should be something or someone else,” It’s not just the magazine industry. Girls are she says. “I want girls who live in the Northern bombarded daily with distorted messages from Territory to pick this up and be like, ‘Cool, I can advertisements and fashion shows to music clips relate to this’. I want girls with disabilities to pick and television. Photoshop restrictions and the use this up and see things that they can do.” of “normal-looking” models are all well and good in Not since federal minister Kate Ellis’ theory, but even Barlow acknowledges that it is not stiletto-clad positive body image movement in 2010 financially viable from a business perspective. have I seen such a crusade against the sexualised, “They’re teaching us to feel horrible so that we hyper-thin and confidence-eroding images that can keep buying products and they can keep leave many young women feeling inadequate. selling ads and making money,” she says. Barlow plans to present the magazine to “They’re Although a handful of magazines have the editors of Cosmopolitan and Cleo, along teaching picked up their acts, there has been a lack with a petition that demands the inclusion of us to feel of compliance by the fashion, media and at least one unaltered photo spread a month, horrible” advertising industries as a whole to the federal and disclaimers on images where body shape government’s voluntary code of conduct on or appearance has been changed. The petition body image. The code was introduced by the already has more than 20,000 signatures. government’s national body image advisory group in Her message is simple. Reality is beautiful. 2010 as a list of principles coaxing the three industries “Teenage girls have pimples, frizzy hair and lumps into promoting positive body image. and bumps on their body,” she says. Yet a recent study by Queensland University of “The truth is that we aren’t ugly; there isn’t something Technology found that only three out of the 10 wrong with us – the magazines simply edited away all magazines upheld all of the criteria outlined in the code, the body features that we could relate to.” including pictorial and textual evidence of diverse-sized Barlow slams magazines as “irresponsible”. models and body differentials. “They very often send contradictory messages to their Critics of the code say that, without teeth, it is readers. doomed to fail. But how far can we go before the media, “There are editorial pieces advising readers

(ISTOCKPHOTO / THINKSTOCK)

B

Starting point: Jess Barlow with former Cleo editor Gemma Crisp during a meeting about The Brainwash Project. (SUPPLIED)

» For further information on The Brainwash Project, see www.brainwashproject.wordpress.com. The Brainwash Magazine is available through www.brainwashmagazine.com The launch is April 26 from 6.30pm. APRIL 24, 2013 \ THE WEEKLY REVIEW 9


UNDER THE RADAR \ MYKE BARTLETT REVIEWS THE LATEST FILM

The Ultimate Luc Besson Collection \ Blu-ray (Madman), $69.95 » www.madman.com.au

Win!

There’s usually a certain comfort in these directors’ collections – a consistency of tone or genre. We know what we’re in for. Not so when it comes to the works TOP of French director Luc Besson. The seven films here swerve wildly from taut PICK thrillers, wildlife documentaries, garish space operas, meandering arthouse and monochrome, post-apocalyptic fables. Besson’s eclectic, spectacle-driven approach means that different titles stand out from his oeuvre with each return visit. This time around, for me, it was Subway and The Fifth Element. In some ways, the pair represent opposite poles of his filmmaking. The former sees Besson eschewing the conventions of mainstream cinema, while the latter sees him embrace Hollywood (on his own terms, of course). In Subway, Fred (Christopher Lambert) is a safe-breaker who hides out in the Paris Metro tunnels. Along the way, he falls in love with a beautiful woman and starts a rock band. Nothing makes any real sense, but there’s a seductive dream-like quality to proceedings that means we’re in no hurry to return to street level. In The Fifth Element, Besson’s eye for the unlikely is used to embellish a cracking thriller in which Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich face off against intergalactic forces of darkness (and Gary Oldman, in one of his most unhinged performances). You can feel the director straining at the limits of the mainstream, while revelling in his unlimited budget. There are dog-headed aliens, high-altitude traffic jams and a bright-blue opera singer. The result is as idiosyncratic as it is entertaining, at once arthouse and action-packed. \

(SUPPLIED)

The Ultimate Luc Besson Collection valued at $69.95. See Freebies on page 5 for details.

Follow Myke on Twitter @mykebartlett

MYKE’S S PAC E

GARY OLDMAN \ THE FIFTH ELEMENT

WATCHING \ I’m ashamed to say I’ve never got into Community. Thankfully, SBS2 is giving me a chance to finally put that right. LISTENING \ British Sea Power’s Machineries of Joy. Their superb soundtracking aside, this might just be the arty rockers’ best work yet. IN CINEMAS \ Antiviral. This dark sci-fi film from David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon, is clever and surprising, offering a literal and grotesque critique of consumerism and celebrity culture.

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PLAY

Barassi: The Stage Show \ Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, Until May 5, $29-$89 » www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

Animal Underworld with Henry Rollins \ SBS2, Tuesday April 23, 9.30pm » www.sbs.com.au/sbs2/

In this new reality series, Henry Rollins – aka the thinking punk fan’s favourite bodybuilder – takes us on a weirdly personal guide to doing dumb things with deadly animals. First up is a man with fangs, who keeps 20 venomous snakes and a lady crocodile called Nigel. “These animals could kill any of us,” Rollins reminds us. “Snakes don’t want to chase a ball”. The tour takes in cockfighting, snake charming and alligator wrestling, with Rollins pausing now and then to wonder what the attraction is in dangerous things. He might wax philosophical about the human urge to flirt with death, but his giddy geekiness gives him away. He doesn’t want to understand anyone, he just wants to wrestle an alligator. Which he does. The result is entertaining fare (if you can stomach the heartbreaking footage of dog fights and bull taunting), featuring plenty of wacky characters to goggle at. \

Given Victoria’s obsession with AFL, it’s odd the sport hasn’t spawned more great stories on stage and screen. David Williamson’s The Club aside, it’s hard to think of a good footy film. (No, not Blinder. Definitely not Blinder.) Thankfully, the colourful life of Ron Barassi makes for great fictional fodder. First and foremost, it’s an underdog tale, as Mr Football rises from nobody to superstar. We begin in World War II, with the death of Barassi’s father – himself a keen footballer – and follow our hero to his place as the sport’s elder statesman, taking in plenty of footy history along the way. This new season sees Christopher Connelly take on the lead role, with Odette Joannidis as Melba, the narrator. \

MUSIC

Nightswim \ Owl Eyes (Wunderkind) » www.owleyes.com.au

Brooke Addamo first came to attention as the runner-up in 2008’s Australia’s Got Talent. As is usually the case in these tedious shows, she’s hung around in the public eye a good deal longer than the winner. A bit of a break and some reinvention probably helped. Since 2010, Addamo has been going by the moniker of Owl Eyes. Three years on and a couple of Triple J hits later, the Melburnian is finally launching her debut album. Her style has settled on synth pop, heavily informed by ’80s electro – and not just the good stuff. Indeed, it’s remarkable how the title track manages to sound so dark and impressive when it’s smothered in cheese. The whole record is full of such alchemy. On the surface, it’s bright and sweet, but there’s a palpable sense of something more interesting lurking beneath. It errs a little too heavily towards the cutesy, but this is a promising second beginning for the young artist. The production is slick, the choruses fat and the hooks immediate. \

(SUPPLIED)

(TONY RIVE)

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MOTORING \ THINGS WE REALLY WANT IN CARS, BY ROD EASDOWN t the New York motor show Honda unveiled the first people mover with a built-in vacuum cleaner and demonstrated it by cleaning up Froot Loops that had been spread generously through the rear carpeting. And every parent present said: “At last!” The idea led The New York Times to ask its readers what else they’d like to see in their cars and there were plenty of ideas. First up were booster seats that pop up when needed, without fouling the seat belts; someone should tell them that Volvos have had these since 1978. But not even Volvos have chemical toilets built into the seats, an idea put forward by someone who must be into maintaining average journey speeds only fractionally south VOLVO BOOSTER SEATS of the posted limit. This idea was popular only with parents of toddlers and, um, senior folk. There was the call for a feature usually especially, their cigarette, they could retrieve found only in stretch limousines – a roll-up it easily, ideally before the car caught fire. partition separating front and rear, ideally A popular one was a phone lock that soundproof, but made of glass. This automatically blocked mobile phone one generated ferocious debate. coverage within the car, which is people On one side were parents who good for the driver but tough on wanted a just wanted a break, on the other passengers. Someone pointed out return to were those who placed family that there’s an app for this anyway. real spare interaction, or in some cases iron There was a great deal of wheels discipline, above all. approbation for the person who It wasn’t all about children (although suggested that all cars have the it mostly was); there were lots of folk who fuel cap on the same side, and another wanted a car free from nooks and crannies so good thought came from a motorcyclist: that when they dropped their phone or pen or, “Motorcycles for years have had turn signals (SUPPLIED)

A

count on seeing it anytime soon, at least not in our climate; how would you go wending your way home from the beach on a plastic seat? I’ve left the best idea, from a frustrated dad, till last: “How about a flatulence detector to identify who really did it?” Or is there an app for that? \ editorial@theweeklyreview.com.au

that cancel, not after you make a turn since there’s no steering wheel, but after you’ve travelled a short distance,” he wrote “We’ve all been driven nuts following a car whose turn signal hasn’t cancelled. Can’t car manufacturers take a page from the motorcycle’s playbook?” People wanted headrests that would accommodate pony tails, solar-powered fans to keep the interior cool while the car is parked, and the return of real spare wheels. There were a few bad ideas of course. Some people suggested a plastic interior that could be cleaned easily or even hosed out. Don’t

THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT MOTORING: Moscow police recently pulled over an ambulance and found it was a limousine. Clients paid $200 to cut through traffic under lights and siren.

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